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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  June 13, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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06/13/16 06/13/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> shooting and shooting and shooting. rapidfire. then changed to more ammunition. then changed to another ammunition. i could smell it in the air. least 50 people are dead in orlando, florida, after a gunman attacked a gay nightclub in the deadliest shooting in modern u.s. history. the victims are overwhelmingly latino, many puerto rican. president obama described the shooting as an act of terror and an act of hate. >> this massacre is a further
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reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub. and we have to decide if that is the kind of country we want to be. is atively do nothing decision as well. amy: the orlando gunman used a semiautomatic weapon that would have been prohibited under the assault weapons ban that expired over a decade ago. we will spend the hour looking at the massacre in orlando, speaking to local officials in florida, a longtime patron of the pulse nightclub, and the first openly gay imam in the united states. we will learn how i been loving nation, australia, passed sweeping gun control legislation after a massacre in 1995. all of that and more coming up.
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welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. vigils are being held across the country following what has been described as the deadliest mass shooting in modern american history. at least 50 people died in orlando, florida, early sunday morning after a gunman identified as 29-year-old omar mateen opened fire at a packed gay dance club on latin night. more than 50 others were injured. three hours after the shooting began, authorities say the gunman was shot dead when police raided the club. the shooting was the deadliest attack on the lgbt community in american history and it came in the middle of pride month. president obama addressed the nation on sunday. >> this is an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. the shooter targeted nightclub where people can together to be with friends, to dance, and to
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sing, and to live. the place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub, it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights. amy: since 2007, the suspected gunman, omar mateen, had worked as a security guard at g4s, the largest private security firm in the world. he was born in new york to afghan parents in 1986. the fbi interviewed mateen in 2013 and 2014 for possible terrorist ties. according to the "new york times," he was placed under fbi surveillance for a time but the agency eventually closed its inquiry. there are reports that mateen called 911 around the time of the assault and declared his allegiance to isis but no audio , of the call has been released to the public. mateen's father told nbc that his son had been angered after seeing two men kissing in miami. mateen's former wife told reporters that he was mentally unstable and used to beat her.
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one of the guns used by the shooter at the pulse nightclub was an ar-15 semi-automatic rifle. the gun was also used in the massacres at sandy hook elementary school and the aurora, colorado, movie theater, and the killings in san bernardino, california. the guns were once a legal under the assault ban that expired in trevor velinor of the bureau of 2004. alcohol, tobacco and firearms said mateen purchased his guns legally. >> atf has traced us firearms. we know the individual purchased at least two firearms. speaking -- he can legally walk into a gun dealership and acquire project firearms. he did so and did so within the last week or so. thus far we are following up on that, so i'm not going to get into the specific location of the purchase but he did purchase to firearms, a handgun, and a long and within the last few
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days. amy: the pulse nightclub shooting came just over a day after another fatal shooting in orlando. on friday, a man identified as kevin james loibl fatally shot singer christina grimmie as she signed autographs after a concert. known for being a contestant on the show "the voice," grimmie was 22 years old. orlando police chief john mina described the attack. >> this white male approached her and opened fire, striking her. almost a medially, her brother marcus tackled the suspect to the ground. shortly after that, the suspect killed himself. obviously, as we know, virtually, christina grimmie past. the suspect had two handguns on his person. he had queued up additional loaded magazines for those handguns, and a large hunting knife. amy: meanwhile in california sunday, authorities arrested a heavily armed man who said he was heading to the gay pride parade in los angeles.
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santa monica police responding to a call about a man knocking on a resident's door and window found james wesley howell of indiana. in his car he had three assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition and bucket with "chemicals capable of forming an improvised explosive device." donald trump has used the shooting in orlando to double down on his call for a ban on muslim immigration to the united states, even of the shooter was a u.s. citizen born in new york. his comments came after hewlett-packard ceo, major republican donor meg whitman, reportedly compared trump to adolf hitler and benito mussolini during a closed-door meeting on friday. in syria isis has claimed , responsibility for suicide and car bombings that reportedly killed at least 20 people in a suburb of the capital damascus. meanwhile the syrian government , has reportedly dropped barrel bombs on daraya, another damascus suburb, just hours after it received its first
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delivery of food aid in four years. residents said the raids began as people gathered to collect the much-needed food. this comes as at least 39 people have been reported killed in airstrikes blamed on either the syrian regime or russian forces in the syrian province of idlib. in bangladesh, authorities say they have arrested more than 8500 people over the course of four days as part of a nationwide crackdown they say is aimed at stopping violence against religious minorities and secular bloggers. opponents say bangladesh is using the effort to target political dissidents. in germany, thousands of people formed a human chain around a u.s. air force base to protest the u.s. drone wars. ramstein air base hosts a station that relays communications between drone operators in the united states and the drones they pilot abroad. clement walter was among the protesters. >> i am here because i don't
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agree with american weapons. american rockets been directed toward other countries from german soil. we do not have to tolerate that. above all, i am thinking about our children. i want them to understand there must not be any war carried out from german soil. amy: bahraini human rights activist zainab alkhawaja has fled bahrain amid warnings she could be arrested for a 12th time. alkhawaja was released in may after two months imprisoned with her infant son. last week she fled denmark, telling the "new york times" -- she has she fled to denmark, telling the "new york times" bahraini officials had warned the danish embassy she could be rearrested within months and separated from her son. bahrain is a close u.s. ally, home to the navy's fifth fleet. house lawmakers have passed a bipartisan bill to create a federally appointed control board to address puerto rico's debt crisis. speaking on the house floor, illinois congress member luis gutierrez blasted fellow democrats for supporting a control board he compared to the
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unelected emergency manager who switched the water supply in flint, michigan, poisoning the city's residents. >> i expect my democrats to join the in opposing the same type of unelected control board that has no accountability to the people that it is controlling. focused on austerity without examining the consequences of their actions for the people. the kind of control board that make decisions in flint, michigan, that poisoned the people that they were not ever elected. amy: in texas, two valedictorians have publicly announced they are undocumented. in austin, texas, mayte lara ibarra, who plans to attend university of texas at austin on a scholarship, tweeted -- "valedictorian, 4.5gpa, full tuition paid for at ut, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and i'm undocumented." further north in mckinney, texas, larissa martinez, who is heading to yale university, disclosed her status during her address to her class.
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the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of the united states. i decided to stand before you today and reveal these unexpected realities because this might be my only chance to convey the truth to all of you that undocumented immigrants are people, too. dreams, aspirations, hopes, and loved ones. people like me. people who have become a part of the american society and way of life and who yarn to make america great again. without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice. amy: both young women have been subjected to a barrage of hatred on social media. the digital media outlet gawker has declared bankruptcy and put itself up for sale. the move comes after gawker was ordered to pay $140 million in a lawsuit for publishing the sex tape of wrestler hulk hogan. hogan's lawsuit was financially backed by silicon valley billionaire peter thiel, who was
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outed as gay by a now-defunct gawker blog. more than 20,000 people packed a sports arena in louisville, kentucky, friday to bid farewell to heavyweight boxing champion muhammad ali. ali will also be remembered for his activism against war and racism. his daughter, maryum ali, spoke at the interfaith funeral. >> your family is so proud of the legacy you left behind, but i hope that the history of you can help turn the tide of self hate and violence because we are overwhelmed with moments of silence -- that. soil,n the soil, american in the middle east or anywhere for in this world, we crave peace. the peace that you rest in now. amy: and the attacks in orlando took center stage at the tony
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awards sunday night. host james corden honored the victims. >> good evening. all around the world, people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in orlando this morning. on behalf of the whole theater community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity. all we can say is, you're not on your own right now. your tragedy is our tragedy. theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, is embraced, and is loved. hate will never win. together, we have to make sure of that. tonight's show stands as a celebration of that principle. this is the tony awards. amy: the broadway hit "hamilton" won 11 tony awards, including best musical. creator lin-manuel miranda
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delivered a sonnet about the orlando attacks. >> when senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised this show is proof that history remembers we live in times when hate and fear seem stronger we rise and fall in light from dynamic them and remember its is that hope and love last longer. love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside with music, love, and pride thank you so much. amy: "hamilton" creator at last month's tony awards in new york. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. vigils are being held across the country following what has been described as the deadliest mass shooting in modern american history.
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at least 50 people died in orlando, florida, early sunday morning after a gunman opened fire at a packed gay dance club. more than 50 others were injured. the victims were mainly latino, many of them puerto rican. three hours after the shooting began, authorities say the gunman was shot dead when police raided the club. the shooting was the deadliest attack on the lgbt community in american history. the attack came in the middle of pride month. witnesses described scenes of terror inside the club. >> he just kept on shooting and shooting and shooting. and walking around. it was rapidfire. then he changed, put in another ammunition. changed and put in another ammunition. i could smell the ammo in the air. amy: over a decade, the pulse was a popular destination for the lgbt community in central florida. it opened in 2004 by barbara
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poma to celebrate her brother who had died of aids. president obama addressed the nation on sunday afternoon. >> so this is a sobering reminder that a tax on any american, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us and on the phenomenal values of the quality and dignity that define us as a country. and no act of hate or tear will ever change who we are or the values that make us americans. marks the most deadly shooting iamerican history. the shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. this massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or a house of worship or a movie
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theater or in a nightclub. and we have to decide if that is the kind of country we want to be. and to actively do nothing is a decision as well. amy: authorities identified the gunman as 29-year-old omar mateen. he used a semi automatic weapon that would have been prohibited under the assault weapons ban that commerce allowed to expire more than a decade ago. since 2007, mateen had worked as a security guard at g4s, the largest private security firm in the world. he was born in 1986 in new york to afghan parents. the fbi interviewed him in 2013 and 2014 for possible terrorist ties. according to the "new york times," he was placed under fbi surveillance for a time but the agency eventually closed its inquiry. there are reports that mateen called 911 just after the initial assault and when he was inside the club and declared his allegiance to the islamic state but no audio of the call has , been released to the public. mateen's father told nbc that
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his son had been angered after seeing two men kissing in miami. mateen's former wife told reporters he was mentally unstable and used to beat her. >> in the beginning, he was a normal being that cared about family, loved to joke and have fun. but a few months after we were married, i saw his instability and i saw he was bipolar and would get mad out of nowhere. that is when i started worrying about my safety. after a few months, he started abusing me physically. very often. not allowing me tuesday to my family, keeping me hostage from them. himy to see the good in even then, but my family was very tuned into what was going through and decided to visit me and rescue me out of that situation. amy: joining us now in orlando, florida, is hannah willard, policy and outreach coordinator for equality florida.
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here in new york, daniel leon-davis, grew up orlando and was a regular at pulse. he is the senior creative director of soze. he wrote aps called "the site of , the orlando shooting wasn't just a gay nightclub. it was my safe haven." hannah, let's begin with you. you are in orlando near the scene of the crime. can you describe what you understand took place and the significance of the nightclub where it happened? >> thank you for having me. this act of senseless violence has left us all reeling. for this to have taken place during pride month in june as an -- adds an extra layer of horror being lgbtq community targeted in this way. gay nightclubs are absolutely safe havens for our community, for so many of us, the first place where we really could be our authentic selves. pride month is when we mark the
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stonewall riots, when we come together to take pride in who we are. this act of hatred has left us all shocked and morning for those we have lost. amy: you mentioned the stonewall riots. many flowers were placed at the stonewall here in new york, really, the launch of the modern day gay rights movement in this country. talk about the significance of the pulse in orlando. nightclub is in institution in orlando. this is my hometown. i grew up in. i am proud to live here and pulse nightclub is a place where all of us went to have a fun night out with our friends. gay entrenched in her people, we want the same things everyone else wants -- we want to be able to provide a living -- earn a living, provide for our families, go out dancing with our friends. i was at a small gathering were someone asked, will we be able to make pulse safe again? my answer is, i am sure we will because gay and transgender
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people have always carved out safe spaces for selves admits diversity. our committed he is no stranger to violence, hatred, and antagonism and no stranger to getting back up and moving forward, stronger than ever. i'm thankful for the solidarity that are committed has felt yesterday and today in the midst of our grief. amy: do you see this as a hate crime? >> there's no question that homophobia and hatred and bigotry are alive and well here in florida and across our country. we may never know exactly what was in the heart of this man that inspired him to commit this act of hatred and violence, but what we do know is that in the midst of this grief, we are more committed than ever to uproot the homophobia, the hatred, and the bigotry that sparks this kind of violence. we are committed to operating that anywhere it exists, the at homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, sexism, racism
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anywhere it exists. that is our commitment of equality florida. amy: daniel leon-davis in the list of names come overwhelmingly latino, they've identified 49 of the 50 now dead. daniel leon.mes is you grew up in orlando. >> i think something that is important to add to the conversation is that it is not just pride month, is also immigrant heritage month. the process of taking in as a gay latino who grew up literally -- i went to pulse all the time. amy: how many times do you think you went? >> at least over 100 times. i friends call each other and said, had i been in orlando last night, chances are i would have been in pulse -- amy: it was latin night. >> yes. there is a home that is gone now. right, like pulse -- a lot of
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people view a clubs as just clubs, but the reality is, gay and trans people get pushed out of churches all the time. oftentimes, our safe havens become nightclubs. it is the place you feel safe. the place you feel like you can be your self. to have something like this happen at a nightclub, a gay nightclub, is just, like, it hurts. it is home. it hurts. this morning i woke up and when the updated list of the victims names came out, literally, had to call to of my friends to let them know that the people they had been looking for had been murdered. amy: do you know people your selves -- do you know people yourself who died at the nightclub? >> there is no one on the list that i've seen thus far that i know. i still have one friend i have not been able to get in contact with since yesterday. amy: you're wearing a t-shirt that says "bulletproof #black lives matter.
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>> it was intentional. i was trying to figure out what was going to wear and one of my dear friends created this blackt as part of the lives matter movement. something that came to me was just thinking about the fact that so much of the work i do and we do as a movement is around intersectionality. this was a gay club with so many young people of color who really took it as home. amy: in fact, it was also used as a place for political meetings. >> yes. i mentioned it in my fusion fees, that was almost like a community center. there were weeks when i went to pulse three or four times. it wasn't all about dancing and drinking. it was about actually building community. i think for me, it was the first place where i felt safe. amy: and the owner, her brother died of aids? >> yes.
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i think the story of how pulse can together -- something that has been running through my mind is, do you even open up another pulse? do you just let this be and let it go? i think something that has been running through my head is, all of the experiences that have happened inside that nightclub and everything that is, like, the history that is been built there like orlando is one of the gay friendliest cities in the entire nation but the reality is, it is still the south. amy: i want to turn to a quote of richard kim. richard kim who wrote in the nation -- "that was my first lesson that gay bars are more just license -- more than just licensed establishments homosexual pay to drink. their therapy for people who cannot afford therapy, tables for people who lost them.
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vacations for people who can't go on vacation, homes for folks without families. .anctuaries against aggression they take sound and fabric and flesh from the ordinary world and under cover of darkness and the influence about all or drugs, transform it all into something that scrapes up against utopia." >> right. like, it is just something different, right? what is crazy to me is it took something like this to happen for me to process. as i was writing the article yesterday, i kept thinking, well, this isn't just a club. this isn't just a club. this is literally people safe haven. amy: we're going to break and come back to our discussion and also talk about the role of that took the attack place. we don't know everything that happened. we don't know about this timeframe of three hours before the police moved in or who ultimately died by what bullets.
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this is all going to be unveiled, i assume, in the next few days. the what we do know is at this point, 50 people are dead. mainly young, overwhelmingly latino, celebrating latin night at the pulse in orlando, florida. we want to thank hannah willard who will stay with us and daniel leon-davis, and we will also be joined by a state senator and looking at what happened in another horrific massacre. this one in the gun loving nation in australia. it was several decades ago, but after this happened, almost mostight, past some of the restrictive gun legislation in the world. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "i will survive" by gloria
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gaynor. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. across thebeing held country following what has been described as the deadliest mass shooting in modern american history. at least 50 people died in orlando, florida, early sunday morning after a gunman opened fire at a packed gay dance club. more than 50 others were injured. the victims overwhelmingly latino and young between 20 -- in their 20's and 30's. a door is identified the gunman as 29-year-old omar mateen who used a semi automatic weapon that would have been prohibited under the assault weapons and that congress allowed to expire more than a decade ago. on sunday, the council on american islamic relations condemned the shooting. this is the group's executive director. >> our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the victims and their families who we offer condolences to the families and we pray for the recovering of
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the survivors. this is a hate crime, plain and simple. we condemn it in the strongest possible sense that violates our americans and as muslims. amy: joining us now is imam daayiee abdullah, executor director of against it too, one of the first openly gay imams in the western hemisphere. welcome to democracy now! can you show your thoughts imam daayiee abdullah about what took place in orlando, florida, this weekend? >> thank you, amy, for inviting me. i am wearing black today because i am still in mourning because i want to get out condolences to the families and friends of -- and the community there of victims there in orlando. overall,, to say that violence is never the answer to
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any type of response, but there are a number of different issues and intersection that lead to a major question as to why these things happen. it is not just a cause of an individual with just hate, but there are things that underlie the reasoning behind them so that they can choose to use about how theway to makeamy: ck media is portraying what took place? i mean, when the words across the bottom of the screen, when people woke up yesterday on television, "terror attack," you almost knew immediately it wasn't a white supremacist who did this because it would have said "white supremacist attack." terror has become synonymous with muslim in this country. can you describe your response to hearing who was involved with this attack and what they are
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saying about omar mateen right now? >> ok, well, typically, like any other attack that has happened, most muslims, you know, there is a gasp of breath and ago, i hope they are not muslim. and there is times being a blackmail, you hope it is in a black male who did this. it is a similar feeling, but the way in which the media has portrayed in continues to portray, it has gotten better, but the problem is that there's always this leap directly towards if the person is muslim that did it, then it is terrorism rather than someone who may have a mental illness or someone or have other causes that led them to fall into the process of using violence in terms of what they do. i think that generally when it is all quite nailed, then it is mental illness -- white male, then it is mental illness. in this case, it is always terrorism. as donald trump commented
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yesterday evening, that this is, keep the muslims out. it is always a direct attack toward muslims who are american citizens as well as other individuals who are here who believe in their faith, and we find that we are now in the position again of trying to protect ourselves -- in some instances, causing people to become more sequestered in their day-to-day lives. amy: you talk about mental illness and you talk about -- we just played a clip of the gunman's wife come his ex-wife, who said that he was mentally ill and that he beat her when he was married to her. >> yes. one of the issues i think that is very important in many communities of color, there is a stigma about mental health. in my counseling that i provide to not only lgbt muslims, but also young muslims, interfaith couples, older muslims who are
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now in a different culture, we find the shaming that comes from acknowledging that one may have some issues that may relate to mental health, often people are not willing to go and seek additional help because of that shaming or the cultural stigma that is associated with it. i think we need to make this change in how people approach mental health so that people can be helped much earlier in the process if they should exhibit certain issues or certain ways in which we show mental ill us issues. aboutf you could talk .lso his fascination with guns speaking to reporters sunday, his ex-wife also described mateen's interest in guns. >> he wanted to be a police officer. friends whoith his
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arpoli oerand yet a license to have a gun in florida , you are allowed to do that. i am sure he went to shooting ranges. amy: your response, imam? >> in growing up in detroit, michigan, both of my parents were gunowners and they taught us how to safely and carefully utilize them because we of businesses and they showed us how they were a sense of protection. but that is something to never use a gun and less -- you know, never play with a gun and less you intend to use it. it was for protection only. i think one of the issues quite often from a mental health perspective that people find power behind a gun. i think this may be one of the issues that was prevalent with mateen and that he used it as a source of power, where he may have felt powerless.
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there are others but galatians for reasons for why he may have felt powerless, too, for which i'm not shirt and does certainly should delve into and to we have more information. legally, that is the issue behind most people. they feel a loss of power. they use a gun to sort of equalize things and of course, once the process begins quite often, people die in that process. amy: i want to go back to hannah willard who is with us from orlando. she is with equality florida, a statewide advocacy organization lesbian, bisexual, transgender rights. what are you calling for now? >> yesterday, we moved very quickly to help people gain access to grief counseling resources. immediately, we call for people to go to their local blood banks anmake sure they were giving blood. we also called for folks to donate if they felt called to do so through a gofundme campaign
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that raised over $1 million in one day alone. so many folks were looking for tangible next steps, and we wanted to provide those vehicles for folks to have those avenues to feel they were standing in solidarity with those that we lost. the best tangible next step that folks can take is to teach our children to treat each other with dignity and respect, to treat those whom they don't understand with empathy and compassion. that is how we build a florida where every single child growing up knows that they are celebrated and valued for exactly who they are, no matter who they love. that is the florida i want to see. amy: talk about the ban on gay blood donors. i know there has been a major call for blood donations. we saw the lines yesterday in orlando. >> absolutely. if there was ever a time when this ban was seen as discriminatory and unnecessary,
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it is now more than ever. debunked as been medically unnecessary, as discriminatory. there were friends and family of those that we lost two were itching to be able to do something to support those who were still fighting for their lives in the hospital. every single minute counts when you are on -- when you're in surgery, open on the table, and needing a blood donation. it is really a shame that the live thist to unnecessary band, but we also know that moving forward, these types of tragedies always serve as a catalyst to changes in policy and lead to different actions so we can move forward to prevent senseless violence like this from ever happening again. says thee strangio christian right have instituted bans. hannah, your response? >> it is not up for debate that
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bigotry and homophobia is still alive across our country. the lgbtq community is under attack, plain and simple. we were tangibly and violently under attack at pulse nightclub this past weekend, but of course, over 200 anti-lgbt bills filed here in florida and in states across the country -- legislators are targeting our community where we are most vulnerable, which is transgender people, transient of people of color. also thankful daniel minturn -- mention internationalality. we need to move forward together. we all have the same oppressors. we all have the same opposition. i am proud that we work with a diverse intersectional coalition here in orlando and in florida to fight back against our opposition and certainly will be fighting back in the legislature and through concrete policy
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changes in the coming years. amy: daniel leon-davis, your final comment as you continue to gather information about people you knew and did not know who are either victims or the left ones of victims? >> i think the thing that hit me the hardest yesterday was a tweet that basically said, our souls have died and nearly thing that remains alive is the second amendment. and i think just thinking about the fact that we remain in this cycle, like, it just feels like at what point -- what is the breaking point? because every single breaking point we felt was going to be a -- the sandy hook, right, every single breaking point we felt was going to get us there hasn't. i guess my question is, is this the breaking point? break,'re going to go to speaking of breaking points, and come back and talk about guns,
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talk about what happened in another country when a massacre rocked the country, the worst in australia's history, and we're going to continue our discussion with the imam. i want to thank hannah willard ,s well as daniel leon-davis and we will link to your views "the site of the orlando , shooting wasn't just a gay nightclub. it was my safe haven." this is democracy now! we will be back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. vigils being held around the country following the deadliest mass shooting in modern american history.
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at least 50 people have died in orlando, florida, early sunday morning after a gunman opened fire at a packed gay dance club. more than a dance club, a safe haven for so many in the lgbtq community. more than 50 others are injured, many critical in the hospital. overwhelmingly, latino. it was latin night at pulse. still with us in washington is imam daayiee abdullah executive , director of mecca institute, a one of the first openly gay imams in the western hemisphere. can you talk about coming out, what it meant, and how the muslim unity responded to you and what you're trying to do today? >> ok. well, amy, provisionally i was 15 when i was about to graduate from high school and came out to 1969, 1970.n so i was accepted by my parents because i have held the ethics that were important to them. and so with that, i continued forward to learn to be the kind
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of person that i have come to become today. but even some decades later when i got introduced to islam when i was in china, studying at beijing university, ethics remain an important part in becoming a muslim as well. so the process of coming out within the islamic committee was a slower one, meaning it was one upon which pushed me toward becoming a scholar in the arena because i needed to understand the context of what the text meant both in context and in content. therefore, it was an important aspect. while living in the middle east at the time, i was able to go to school and do studies and found that the issues toward homosexuality was really based on the prejudices of those interpreters who were there talking about these particular issues. so i came to learn through that process that many times islam or any religion when it goes into a
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culture -- culture's have different types of taboos and they will evolve and match their taboos with a religious understanding. so quite often, the prejudice is not based on the text, but the interpretation and the cultural acceptance and support of that particular stigma. so coming out and the muslim community continues to be a problem for many people, regardless of their age. but i very happy to say over the generations, more and more younger people are being self accepting and learning to reach out to people like myself and other religious leaders, not only in islam but others. amy: imam, have you heard from members of the lgbt community, muslim members, after this attack? >> yes, very much so. i have been in contact with a number of organizations. we have, solidarity, many have put out commentary, both on
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facebook and other social media arrangements, to acknowledge the horror that also acknowledge there are safe places for us to be and that we should remain in contact with each other. and this is also true within the muslim committed to because places like pulse in major cities and other places, this is a safe haven for them to remove themselves from their own sequestered sense in the community and being able to find a place where they are open. other organizations that myself and other religious leaders, too, welcome people to definitely find safe space and contact us and talk to us when there is the need. amy: imam daayiee abdullah, thank you for being with us executive director of mecca , institute one of the first , openly gay imams in the western hemisphere. we go back to florida where we are joined by state senator geraldine thompson who represents the district where the shooting happened, pulse is
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located in orlando. your response to the poor that took place this weekend, state senator? >> absolutely heartbreaking. i am mourning still for the victims, for the family members of the victims, and just devastated by this kind of horrific act here in orlando. i think that part of the conversation, while we are comforting the family members, but part of the conversation has to be, how do we become safer in our communities? i think that safety is linked to the availability of guns to people who are unstable, who may be mentally disturbed, and how easily individuals like that get weapons, including assault-type weapons that allowed omar mateen to go into the pulse nightclub and literally shoot hundreds of people. we have to look at whether we
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want to be the kind of america where you can buy ammunition in magazines with rounds of ammunition that is usually reserved for military operations . therefore, it is available for people like omar mateen who went to the pulse nightclub. that has to be part of the conversation. amy: i saw you yesterday morning on television. you followed the news conference of governor rick scott. he was saying people should pray . and as the group walked away, you came forward. they were now surrounding you when you spoke, to say the least, and you said you what this to be your first conversation with the governor. what is governor scott's response, not only at the state level, but also nationally when you talk about this issue? what exactly are you calling for?
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one of the weapons used i think mateen had an ar-15, which was a semi automatic rifle that would have been banned under the assault weapons ban that was allowed to sunset by congress over 10 years ago. yet a glock pistol, in his car get a smith & wesson. what are you calling for now and what are the rules in florida? >> i'm asking the governor and other elected leaders to re-examine our laws with regard .o the availability of guns governor scott said in the news conference yesterday that this is not the time. when will be time arrive? how many shootings must we have? this is the deadliest mass shooting in our nation's history . so when is the time going to arrive? one of the things i remember about dr. king's letter from the birmingham jail when he said that people were saying, it's not the time for integration and
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it's not the time to end to segregation and to give people basic human rights. and his response, people who say weight really mean never. i am calling on governor rick scott mcauley not other elected officials to look at our laws. omar mateen had a license to be a security guard, even though his wife had reported that he was abusive, that he was prone to violent outbursts. we need a database that helps us identify unstable people. our laws do allow the use of some of the weapons that he had in a performance of his duties as a security guard, but not off duty. so we have to look at that as well. we know that if you are on a terrorist watch list, for example, you could not board a
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plane in the united states, but you can buy a gun. so there a problem with that. we have to close that terror loophole. it is up to our elected leaders to do that. and citizens at the grassroots level have to say to elected leaders that as elections come about, and elections do have consequences, one of the questions that citizens have to ask before they go to the polls is, where does a person who wants to be elected stand with regard to ending gotten violent in this country? amy: so often in these cases, the nra says they won't comment, they don't to make a political at this time right after the shooting. immediately, you see terror strikes in every one will talk about the issue of terrorism. when it comes to guns, they say this isn't the correct time or place. do you see this as a terror attack, state senator? >> i do.
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i am the former chair of the florida commission on human relations, and we dealt with hate crime. this was obviously a hate crime that was targeted to individuals based on their sexual orientation and based on people based on ethnic background. it was latin night at the pulse nightclub. it was a hate crime perpetrated against two different groups of people. unfortunately, we hear people who are offering themselves for leadership who are encouraging demeaning and disparaging other groups because they are different. when people are seen as different, many times they are seen as inferior. and that difference could be based on the color of their skin , as we saw in charleston, south carolina. it could be based on an difference idea or
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in perspective, as we saw on the shooting with the planned parenthood facility. and certainly, in this case, it is based on sexual orientation and at the background. so it is a hate crime. and when leaders encourage violence at political rallies, for example, and demean and disparage certain individuals, that gives license to people who are unstable to say that this is acceptable and that this is ok, and they carry out these kinds of acts. i think we have to be very, very careful about the rhetoric that we are hearing from individuals who are looked up to in this country. amy: i want to turn to what happened in another country after a massacre like we have seen -- actually, not as many people killed, as the u.s. struggles to make sense of yet another mass shooting. we will end the show with a look at one country that fought to change the culture of gun
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violence and won. it was 20 years ago april of , 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in port arthur, tasmania, killing 35 people and wounding 23 more. this is australia. just 12 days after the grisly attack and the public outcry it launched, australia's government responded by announcing a bipartisan deal to enact gun control measures. totally amazing, gun loving country. the pact included agreements with state and local governments. since the laws were passed -- now 20 years ago -- there has not been a mass shooting in australia and overall gun violence has decreased by 50%. we're joined by rebecca peters, an international arms control advocate and part of the international network on small arms. led the campaign to reform australia's gun laws after the port arthur massacre. welcome back to democracy now! explain what happened in april 1996. >> we had had a campaign for about 10 years at that time to reform the gun laws, which were
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weak in some states in a was a patchwork across the country, as it is in the u.s. in april 1996, this tragedy occurred with 35 people killed. at that moment, our prime minister said, this is the time after all of this provocation, we're going to do something. amy: to expand the context, would you describe australia's culture is a gun loving culture, as hunters? >> yes. the self image of australia is often sort of an outdoor guy on a horse with a gun type of thing will stop not to do similar from the traditional image of america. hunting is very popular. but there were -- there were too many guns and guns of a type which were assault weapons, which were not really suitable -- not necessary for hunting. it was known that was the case, but it had taken -- governments had continually said, now is not
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the time, wait until a better moment. so at that moment, the prime minister stepped up and said, this is it. he called together all of the states and territories and put to them a plan which had been endorsed by the public health community which had been endorsed by many hundreds of groups across the country who had been campaigning for a long time. and that was one of the most important aspects of that law -- of that set of laws was, a ban on assault weapons, on semiautomatic weapons -- which are weapons designed to kill lots of people. not surprisingly, as we've seen in orlando, a weapon designed to kill lots of people killed lots of people. the laws say those weapons cannot be owned by civilians. one of the other most important aspects of the laws, which is very applicable, is that the background check system in the new laws is very comprehensive. in america, the background check consists of usually looking at a
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computer to see if someone has a criminal conviction. that is on a background check. in new york city, if you want to apply to rent an apartment or good university, there's a background check. the authorities talk to people who know you. they asked their opinion of you. similarly in australia and most other developed countries, a background check consists of asking for references -- your family doctor, talking to her spouse or previous spouse, asking, is there any concern? amy: this is key given what his ex-wife, mateen's ex-wife said he had an obsession with guns, one of the big cup, always wore teacher and ended up as a security guard. >> and relying on a list, which has so many problems, whether there were processing errors, i mean -- amy: equivalent of the nra and australia? >> the gun lobby was very unhappy the time and had lots of
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protests and very responsibly urged people not to comply with the new laws. amy: they were passed within two weeks? >> the agreement was made within two weeks and then laws had been passed within state. within one year, all of these states have modified their loss. we've seen gun violence decreased by 50% in that time. amy: state senator geraldine thompson, do you think there is a possibility of something like this happening in the united states? >> i am pushing for it and will continue to ask governor scott and the other elected leaders to begin the process here in florida. we need to close these loopholes. we need to make sure you cannot buy a gun at a gun show without having a background check, and that you cannot buy a gun from a personal individual without having a background check. it has to begin at the state level because, unfortunately, at the federal level, the nra and the gun lobby have a lock there.
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we saw in florida in the last legislative session, two bills, one would have allowed guns on campus even though every state university president, every college president was opposed to it, the nra supported it and so we had to work feverishly to defeat that. we also had a bill for open carry, or anyone in public view could walk around with a gun and therefore, you don't know who is the person with ill intent and the person with good intent. we were able to defeat that. amy: i want to go back to rebecca peters. what do you think is the most important way that you got this kind of legislation passed? >> definitely bipartisan agreement was the key because -- on amy: and when you don't have that? >> taking on board the opinions
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of the experts, the public health committed to, crime prevention. amy: we have to leave it there. amy: we have to leave it there.
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